Pope to Church: Cheer Up

Francis praises Benedict, warns against pessimism in address to cardinals

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 15, 2013 10:08 AM CDT

(Newser) – Pope Francis praised his predecessor in a meeting with his cardinals today, and told them, essentially, to keep their happy faces on. "Let us not give in to pessimism, to that bitterness that the devil offers us every day," he said, perhaps a veiled reference to the Church's recent scandals. He said Benedict had "lit a flame in the depths of our hearts."

But perhaps more significant than what he said was how he said it. He addressed the crowd as "Brother Cardinals" rather than the usual "Lord Cardinals," the New York Times observes, and Reuters adds that he ad-libbed frequent asides to his prepared text, in the latest signs that he's a decidedly less formal pope than Benedict. Officials also add that when he takes meals with the cardinals, he sits in whatever seat is open. In other papal news:

  • The meeting with the cardinals was aired on Vatican TV, CNN reports, and it gave Francis his first opportunity to address the cardinals 80 and older who couldn't vote at the conclave.
  • Yesterday, he gave his first Mass, urging Catholics to remember their mission. "If we don't proclaim Jesus Christ, something is wrong," he said, according to Reuters. "We would become a compassionate NGO and not a church which is the bride of Christ."
  • Quirky pope fact: Francis is a major soccer fan, the Times reports. His hometown team: San Lorenzo de Almagro, which was founded by a priest, has the nickname Los Santos (the Saints), and even has a small chapel attached to the stadium.

In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis celebrates his inaugural Mass with cardinals, inside the Sistine Chapel, at the Vatican, March 14, 2013.   (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano)
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